Two state of the art scanners have been installed at the Gacaca Archives in Kigali. The scanners will play a crucial role in the digitisation of more than 60 million pages of documents. To begin, the scanners will be used in the pilot phase of digitisation, allowing the team to establish efficient systems and process to scan all documents contained in the archive.
A team of twelve Gacaca Archives staff will be trained by specialists from the United Kingdom in the use of the scanners. This training is being organised by King’s College London – a member of the consortium that is working together to preserve the archives.
The two world-class scanners include one feeder scanner, which is designed to scan individual pages, and one book scanner, which is designed to scan books and registers. The archive team has already been trained in uploading scanned documents to Islandora, an open source digital repository system that will be used to organise the Gacaca Archives.
The international consortium includes Rwanda’s National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG), Aegis Trust, the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, the USC Shoah Foundation, and King’s College London. This team of organisation is working to stabilise and rehouse the archive, digitise it and make it available worldwide. They will also provide tools and interpretive materials so that it can be used in many different contexts – for example by students or researchers.
The Gacaca Archives consist of some 18,000 boxes containing over 60 million handwritten pages of unique documentation. Alongside this wealth of information is video recordings and audio testimonies on DVDs, magnetic tapes, cassettes and CDs. Together, these materials document the Genocide against the Tutsi. They are a historical source without parallel, allowing an unprecedented insight into the darkest days of Rwanda’s past.
The project to digitise the Gacaca Archives will ensure that future generations of Rwandans and researchers and scholars from around the world are able to access the archive, learn from what happened and ensure Genocide never happens again, in Rwanda or elsewhere.
The pilot phase of digitisation using the two new scanners will include training the trainers and designing a workflow system that will serve as the template for full implementation of the Gacaca Archives digitisation. This will ensure the main phase will be done efficiently and effectively.